Financial and digital inclusion: what do we need to know?
Ahead of this month's digital housing seminar in London, we spoke to Stephanie Noyce, head of financial and digital inclusion at Affinity Sutton.
Hi Stephanie. What do you intend on talking about in your session?
I'll be discussing the financial and digital inclusion of our residents, which has become increasingly important over the last few years. Transitioning from ad hoc, local provision to a national financial and digital support offer has enabled us to engage greater numbers, deliver a higher standard of service and deliver greater value for money.
What do you see as the key issues for frontline staff in implementing inclusion?
Inclusion is a vast field and frontline staff have to cover a lot of bases, and they shouldn’t be expected to be experts in everything. While it would be great for frontline teams to generate the bulk of our referrals, both digital exclusion and financial exclusion can be difficult to spot, and residents are rarely willing to 'self declare'. We’ve found an ongoing programme of staff awareness raising and training, combined with a pro-active approach by inclusion teams, more successful in engaging residents in support services.
Where do you see the financial inclusion landscape in the future?
It's very difficult to say: universal credit, reducing incomes and increasing expenditure will all potentially increase the need for financial inclusion services, but the policy changes faced by housing associations have the potential to make it increasingly difficult for them to fund this type of work.